Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Round Valley Reservoir Rainbow, Brown, and Lake Trout in Shore Casting Range

Round Valley Reservoir Trout in Shore Casting Range

          Round Valley Reservoir is excellent trout fishing year round—so long as you have a boat. With most of its 2350 acres of gin-clear water deeper than 50 feet—the deepest about 180 feet—trout have huge ranges of cool, oxygenated water through the hottest summer weather. Brown and rainbow trout suspend in 20 to 30-foot mid-reservoir depths, while larger lake trout typically inhabit summer depths of about 90 feet.  All the action is out of range of shore casters, and during summer most of the bass fishing is too.

          Browns and rainbows don't reproduce, but they do behave as if they would. Sometime around October 10th the first rainbows sweep in so close to the bank they easily get spotted, but not so easily enticed to strike. Better to eyeball and contemplate these fish than get all worked up trying to catch them. Most will be 14 or 15 inches, some 20 inches or even much larger—in recent years some 30-inch rainbows have been caught from shore, usually in 10 to 30-foot depths rather than at your ankles. On occasion a lake trout surprises an angler.

          Use six-pound test line for maximum casting range, and send half to full-ounce egg sinker rigs as far out as you can get them, most times, although sometimes it's better fish closer to the edge. If you buy a map it will show deeper water in Ranger Cove than to the left of the main ramp, but the key is to get the bait away from where trout may see you—plenty trout get caught in ten feet of water near the boat ramp, and sometimes much shallower by casting diagonally along the edge. A 7 to 9-foot light power rod is better for casting range, but I’ve always managed with 5 ½-foot light and medium power. It’s a good idea to use as many as three rods per man.

          Run the line through the egg sinker, tie on a barrel swivel, tie to it a 24 to 48-inch length of leader, and a size 6 plain shank hook to the leader. Shiners work, but tend to get caught in aquatic vegetation. (On a rare occasion a pickerel strikes and cuts the line with razor-sharp teeth.) The most preferred bait is M&M’s—marshmallow and mealworm combinations. Power bait becomes more popular, but to abandon the more home-spun approach entirely might be a demise. As absurd as this may seem, shore-bound trout eagerly hit these small marshmallows tipped with a mealworm. Some anglers swear by Halloween orange. But the real purpose of the marshmallow is to float the mealworm. Whoever thought of this was very clever. And it works. You certainly will not catch a bonus bass on M&M, possible on shiners—I saw a three-pounder caught in December—but most likely you will catch more trout, and even fish well over 20 inches hit this offering.

          It’s an odd way to go about fishing for species renowned for entomological selectivity, the art of imitations to tempt them subtle and refined. But so is dropping herring down from over a boat gunnel and drifting without any need to cast at all. The truth about still fishing, as it’s called, is that anticipation builds when fishing is slow, and when fishing is fast it is exciting. It gives an angler objective to just sit for once in this busy world. Most trout caught are around 15 inches, so expectation extends towards the possibility of a large fish that trumps the usual size.

          I’ve enjoyed sitting on a comfortable boulder or fold-out chair and looking long out over immense water, taking it in deeply. To take in space is to widen and deepen my consciousness. Sometimes I’ve brought along a book to read. That can be an antidote to getting lost.

          As mentioned, most of the action is in the boat launch and Ranger Cove areas, and the shorelines accessible from Lot 2. To get to Ranger Cove, go through the open gate as you approach the dike walkway and cross the dike, go through the far gate, and walk to the left. From the immediate corner and for a long way around the shoreline is productive fishing. You can also make your way down among the huge basalt boulders along the dike and do well—just respect those rocks, since a broken leg would easily result from failure to heed their danger. Lot 2 is accessed through the main Recreation Area gateway, and if you get information on trails leading to the back of the reservoir, trout can be caught far away from where you park.

          This fishing lasts into May. The spawning urge has gone, but trout stay close. The reservoir rarely freezes and serves a number of people through the winter—day or night, since the main launch area remains open.





Sunday, September 16, 2012

New Jersey WILD Outdoor Expo at Colliers Mills, Jackson Township, Ocean County

I volunteered yesterday for the New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife 2012 Wild Expo Outdoor at Colliers Mills Wildlife Management Area, Jackson Township, Ocean County.
A large event and full of information sources, I had leapt at the opportunity to help with fishing, and loved helping kids--some who had never fished before, some as young as two--catch bullheads, largemouths, pumpkinseeds, and I saw one yellow perch caught. That the action happened in and from a tank made no essential difference: these kids fished and they knew it. And the bites were as stubborn as anywhere else, but fish came over the sides.
Chalk one up for the mystery of my "Healing the Children" T-shirt, featured on one of my surf fishing posts this spring available in the blog archive. I may explain this some day.
I signed on for Division email information about two years ago and so I got the general call for volunteers this way. Personally, I was just slightly apprehensive before arriving, although once I stepped into action, I knew I was ready as I had thought I was. In my youth, I had committed myself absolutely to the ideal of laizze faire capitalism: it seemed to me that the demise of my creative potential was the fault of statism and all its influence. But I was no cop out and struggled on. And to the contrary of any demise, I produced enormously; the problem was that no one else perceived this, and I blamed the market slack on what intervenes in markets: statism. So in my 20's, I would not have come anywhere near an event sponsored by the state.
I've never compromised on principles. I've simply accepted the situation of modern society as it is, and from "the island," as if Long Beach Island were a paradisiacal safe haven for a writer earning his living by commercial shellfishing--and cross out the as if, it was--I have come to "the mainland." We clammers drew this distinction between the formal, welfare statist economy, and the work we took directly from metaphysically given reality, from nature, from resource.
I want to politely criticize one Expo venue concerning saving Barnegat Bay. The information I took in at glance was nothing new, and the set up reminded me very directly of The Lawrence Ecology Club, the organization I founded when I was ten years old for neighborhood peers. We cleaned up a Green Acres woods and Shabakunk Creek, discussed issues very intelligently, and raised and donated money to John's Hopkins University whistling (now called tundra) swan research. We were a good group. But we could not have cleaned up Barnegat Bay. I just want to say that hard, direct law needs to be enacted, and with these rational measures, the Bay will return. If the political will did not exist, nothing would happen, but it does exist dormantly.
I was interested in Harmonix Rods (and reels). The blue, holographic paint design caught my eye as it should have, and the specs show that these are quality, sturdy, IM6 graphite sticks for freshwater and stripers in the brine. No short changing is involved: the blank goes all the way to the handle butt as a rod should always be constructed. I know, I used to make custom rods in my teens. Thus, the rod is sensitive and strong. And the guides are not placed sparingly as cheap rods skimp on the ribs of the rod's backbone to save pennies. I spoke to the company's founder, Diane Johnson; she operates near Lake Hopatcong. I have to say that for the price, this a good buy for a special, custom outfit, including reel if you want it. At the end of our conversation, I recognized why these rods had seemed familiar, and related the anecdote. About a year ago, Joe Landolfi and I were speaking to Laurie Murphy at Dows Boat Rentals when Joe drew me aside to show me a set of really cool rods produced locally. Yup, Diane concurred that her rods are available.